Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
The day that track athletes across the state have been working and waiting for is finally here.
Competition begins at the 2019 state track and field meet on Thursday morning at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
With three days filled with 19 events across four classes divided into multiple sessions there is a lot to take in on and around the famed Blue Oval inside Drake Stadium.
With everything going on Your Prep Sports will attempt to provide a guide for track and field viewers each day by breaking out five of the top stories to watch involving area athletes and teams.
The meet opens on Thursday with the first of two days divided into two sessions with Classes 2A and 3A starting things off and 1A and 4A taking over in the evening.
Thursday brings three finals on the track and two field event finals.
Here are five things to watch as the state meet gets underway.
Every team wants save their best performance of the season for the state meet.
The Clear Creek Amana 4x800 relay team certainly appears to be on pace to do just that.
The Clipper 4x800 squad of Tom Johnson, Kaden McAreavy, Jack Sexton and Nick O’Connor cut more than 14 seconds of their previous season best time and set a school record at last week’s district meet thrusting themselves firmly into the state title chase on Thursday.
Clear Creek Amana clocked the top time in Class 3A this season at the 3A, District 1 meet winning in a time of 8:07.07.
No 3A team had broken 8:08 this season before the Clippers winning time that is a full second faster than the second-best time in 3A this season from Dubuque Wahlert at 8:08.22.
Clear Creek Amana has two state relay titles in program history but has never won the 4x800 relay at the state meet.
Ashlyn Keeney was coy when questioned about her goals for the first state meet of her career.
“Do my best and maybe pr in a couple of events,” Keeney said of her goals. “Have fun, that’s a big one.”
The Liberty High freshman phenom shouldn’t have any trouble having fun in her first state meet experience.
Keeney enters with the top time in the stat in both the 3,000 and 1,500 the second fastest time in the 800 and the Liberty High distance medley relay team she anchors has the second-best state qualifying time.
The first chance for Keeney to have some fun comes on Thursday in the 3,000 where she enters as a heavy favorite.
Keeney won the Drake Relays 3,000 title in a career-best time of 9:39.64, the fastest ever by an Iowa freshman.
Keeney’s top time is more than 23 seconds faster than the next best time, held by Dubuque Senior junior Claire Edmondson second at 10:03.12.
Erin Kerkhoff is hoping to end an impressive prep career with an emphatic finish this weekend at Drake Stadium
The Solon senior has a chance to get her final state track and field meet off to a strong start with her favorite event on Thursday.
Kerkhoff will attempt to earn a state medal in the 400 for the fourth consecutive season on Thursday entering with the fifth fastest time in Class 3A this season in the event at 57.95.
Kerkhoff was sixth in the 400 as a freshman and sophomore before moving up to fifth last season.
A strong showing from Kerkhoff in the 400 would be a boost to for Solon which figures to be in the thick of the 3A team race heading into Saturday.
Luke Stein picked up the first state medal of his career last season with a fifth-place performance in the shot put.
That fifth-place medal wasn’t exactly the showing the competitive Stein had in mind.
The Regina senior returns to Drake Stadium this weekend as a two-time event qualifier for one final shot at state gold.
Stein’s best chance for gold comes on Thursday in the shot put where he enters with the second-best effort in Class 2A this season at 56-2.
Iowa football recruit Noah Fenske of New Hampton has the top mark in 2A this spring at 60-11 ¼.
Stein also owns the sixth best mark in the discus from qualifying meets at 150-10.
Last season City High shocked the 4A 4x800 field winning the state title in 7:49.41.
This season the defending state champion Little Hawks return with the sixth-fastest qualifying time in the 4A at 8:05.3, six seconds off the pace of top-seeded Johnston.
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